Alongside the revolutionary Resident Evil 4, Capcom are reviving the GameCube’s heyday on Nintendo Switch with ports that bring the original Resident Evil and prequel Resident Evil 0 back from the – er– dead.
Bundled together in some territories as the “Origins Collection”, Resident Evil (a remake of the original PS1 game known by fans as REmake) and prequel Resident Evil 0 (RE0) tell the story of S.T.A.R.S Alpha Team and Bravo Team, the origins of the evil Umbrella Corporation and the creation of the T-Virus.
REmake sees Bravo Team members Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine stranded in the middle of Racoon Forest seeking the location of Alpha Team who have mysteriously vanished. RE0 focuses on Alpha Team member Rebecca Chambers, and escaped convict Billy Cohen.
Let’s start with REmake. Seeing the famous Spencer Mansion in HD graphics is a terrifying joy. Light filtering in through windows highlights ancient dust suspended in the air, while lightning from the night sky outside illuminates each creepy room and still makes you jump after all these years.
In fact, the Spencer Mansion is the perfect haunted house. The location is still a masterclass in atmospheric horror, totally unsettling and frighteningly addictive to explore. The pre-rendered backgrounds and fixed camera angles may be off-putting for new players, but the original developers utilised this style to incredible effect.
RE0 is the slightly weaker of the two games. The story is a prequel, with Alpha Team exploring an abandoned train occupied by zombies, weird leech creatures, and aforementioned convict Billy Cohen. Sadly, the narrative hasn’t aged as well, with the main villain simply not being as compelling. Essentially, he’s a weird guy that controls leeches by singing, and in this day and age that’s a concept that’s more laughable than scary.
It’s a shame because the train and training facility settings are strong. With improved pre-rendered backgrounds that integrate small moving objects, it’s clear that a lot of attention went into even the tiniest details and RE0 still looks fantastic because of it.
Achievements are featured in both games and add incentives for players to go the extra mile to collect as many as possible. These range from unmissable achievements to accomplishments for getting headshots and other combat-related tasks. They are surprisingly fun, and, as an example, I found myself spending a lot of time and effort trying to get two zombies to fall on top of each other so I could burn both their corpses at the same time. Macabre, yes, but achievements add a welcome new dynamic if you’re revisiting older games. Additionally, in REmake you can opt to switch Chris and Jill’s character models to the ones used in Resident Evil Revelations.
Like Resident Evil 4 (also now on Switch) the controls for both games in the Origins Collection are cumbersome and tricky to get used to. Multiple control settings give you some flexibility, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a dated control scheme from a bygone era. When we’ve been spoiled by the fantastic modernisation of the Resident Evil 2 remake, it’s hard to go back.
Sadly, there are more things that irk me. The need to collect ink ribbons limits the number of times you can save at a typewriter, which isn’t ideal for the modern Switch gamer who wants to pop in and out of gameplay. Worst of all though are the lengthy loading screens and door-opening animations between every single room. Surely with the Switch’s improved power these could have been reduced or even eradicated? As it is, the game can be excruciating to play at times.
What’s clear throughout all of this is that these are both fairly standard ports of the HD remasters released in 2015 and 2016. As with Resident Evil 4’s port, it’s hard not to wish that Capcom had done a little more than that, especially when they’re asking for £30 apiece.
All in all, the Origins Collection are decent ports of two classic games. HD graphics have elevated the horror, but outdated mechanics and gameplay arguably taint the experience somewhat. These are still great experiences (particularly REmake) if you can overlook their issues and you could do much worse if you’re in need of some survival horror. After all, any port in a storm.